KC Royals: Will Bubba Starling Earn A September Callup?


Lost in KC Royals fan excitement from general manager Dayton Moore landing Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist in less than 48 hours, prospect Bubba Starling hit for the cycle at AA NW Arkansas on Tuesday.

The day caps what has been a strong July for Starling at AA, in which he has  slashed .356/.400/.563 with seven doubles, one triple, and three home runs. He’s now hitting a more-than-respectable .282/.345/.455 for the season at NW Arkansas.

It’s been a breakthrough season for Starling as a prospect. He smashed High A Wilmington to the tune of .386/.471/.614 to earn a promotion to NW Arkansas by May. Now, it appears that he’s “got” AA.

One particularly encouraging sign is that Starling’s strikeout rate has fallen to 23.4% at AA, down from 27.3% at High A Wilmington last season.

Bubba Starling, who had dropped off of most Kansas City Royals top prospect lists, has now claimed the no. 5 rating among Royals minor leaguers on MLB.com. He’s surpassed players like Jorge Bonifacio and 2013 no. 1 draft pick Hunter Dozier in the KC Royals system, who had been more advanced hitters than the struggling Starling.

SEE ALSO: Acquiring Ben Zobrist Finishes Royals Championship Makeover

Right now, Bubba Starling looks ready for promotion to AAA Omaha. Can a September trial in Kansas City soon follow?

The idea, which seemed far-fetched in April, looks very possible—if not likely—in July. Any kind of reasonable performance at Omaha will make Starling a candidate to replace the departing Alex Rios in right field for the Kansas City Royals next season. Dayton Moore probably will not be able to resist the temptation to take a peek at Bubba Starling against major-league competition.

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The only problem might be that the KC Royals could be in a dogfight to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the Angels and Yankees, or they could be challenged by the Twins for the Central Division title. While the latter possibility doesn’t look very likely with the Kansas City Royals holding a nine-game lead as of July 28, anything can happen in baseball.

As a Chicago White Sox fan pointed out on Twitter last night, the Sox currently have the same 48-50 record that the 2014 KC Royals had through 98 games.

The need to jockey for playoff position could make a Bubba Starling September trial a luxury the team can’t really afford.

I must admit, however, I’d like to catch a glimpse of what an Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Bubba Starling outfield might look like in 2016. Starling’s resurgence could all but nullify the concern that Moore trading off left-handed pitching prospects Brandon Finnegan, Sean Manaea, John Lamb, and Cody Reed, plus righty Aaron Brooks, has crippled the Kansas City Royals system.

Whatever happens next season, it looks as if Bubba Starling’s skills at the plate have begun to catch up to his prodigious athletic gifts.

You can see the video by clicking below:

Next: KC Royals: Bubba Starling Hits For Cycle In Naturals Victory

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